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Rieko Ioane savours Blues milestone

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Friday, March 22, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Scoring two tries, to lift his total to six in two games, Ioane said it was a new experience to beat another New Zealand side. It ended a run of 20 games without success, a streak that started before he had played for the Blues.

"We hadn't beaten that side since 2016 so to get our first win against a New Zealand side after a pretty tough start to the season was pleasing.

"That's the second week in a row where we've been tested right to the 80 [minute-mark], this time in different circumstances of having to come from behind and win so if you get games like that you always build that belief and know that we can do it.

"In those pressure moments we can win it rather than what we have been doing, giving away easy penalties and losing the game that way so to really build pressure for big phases and finally come away with a try at the end and a win is awesome," he said.

Ioane said that after the Sunwolves game they hadn't been converting points inside the 'kill zone', 40m out from the line and the focus going into Friday night had been about holding the ball and applying pressure that way.

"I think we're an impatient team at times, we expect to score straight off first phase, second phase, and if we can just learn to nail down that hard yakka sort of thing through three or four phases and build pressure it will come.

"Paddy's [Patrick Tuipulotu] try was a result of that and I'm sure the forwards and coaches especially will be pleased with that," he said.

Ioane's first try, a 50m effort when joining the line at speed from a lineout to take the ball at first receiver, running past two forwards stationed in the Highlanders' backline had been the result of a Highlanders' defensive ploy and it had been satisfying to score nine minutes into the game.

He said having fullback Melani Nanai playing so well alongside him was also pleasing.

"Melani's the best game-breaker we have in Super Rugby and his footwork is arguably the best in the world, especially in that close quarter stuff so running holes, or running lines off him, is always going to be a field day for anyone outside him because he creates so much pressure," he said.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald said Ioane was showing he was world-class. Not only was he fast, but he was powerful with an eye for the goalline and was playing good rugby. He had been slow to get onto the scoreboard but his two tries made it six tries in two weeks.